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Record number of migrant encounters at US border; second year to top 2 million

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Recent figures from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) paint a concerning picture of the situation at the southern border. In September, there were a record-breaking 270,000 migrant encounters, contributing to a total of 2.47 million encounters for fiscal year 2023.

This marks the second consecutive year with encounters surpassing 2 million.

Governmental response

CBP is responding to this surge by increasing resources and personnel along the southwest border. The agency is working closely with both domestic and international partners to address this unprecedented challenge. 

FILE - Border Patrol Deputy Chief for the Tucson Sector Justin De La Torre walks along the border fence of the U.S.-Mexico border, on Aug. 29, 2023, in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument near Lukeville, Ariz. Most people in the U.S. see Mexico as an essential partner to stop drug trafficking and illegal border crossings, even as they express mixed views of Mexico's government, according to a new poll.(AP Photo/Matt York, File)
Source: AP Images.

Acting Commissioner Troy A. Miller emphasized the agency’s commitment to vigilance and adapting operations while enforcing U.S. immigration laws.

DHS has removed or returned more individual family members in the last four months than in any previous full fiscal year.” Miller said. “In September 2023, the U.S. Border Patrol recorded 218,763 encounters between ports of entry along the southwest border.”

Mexico’s Palenque summit

During a time when nations are divided over handling the migration of millions of people through Central America and South America, Mexico recently hosted a dialogue with 12 other nations in Palenque, Mexico, a significant entry point for migrants arriving from Guatemala. 

Leaders at the summit represented Latin American and Caribbean countries contributing to the record migrant flow. Many of these nations are grappling with the overwhelming number of people crossing their borders.

The discussions focused on the factors driving human mobility, including poverty, inequality, job scarcity, and the impact of climate change.

(Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mexico)

Mexico’s Foreign Secretary Alicia Bárcena pointed out the substantial numbers of migrants coming from countries like Venezuela, Guatemala and Honduras, stressing the need to address the root causes.

“In the month of September alone, 35,000 migrants came from Guatemala, 27,000 came from Honduras and so on,” Bárcena said. “So, the countries that we are inviting to the Summit or the Palenque Meeting are precisely the countries that are sending this number of migrants to Mexico and the United States, because we have to sit down and look at the root causes at this moment, if we have per month the arrival of 60,000 Venezuelans, since it is impossible for us to do good management.”

A migrant girl with the colors of the Venezuelan flag painted on her cheek lines up to acquire a Honduras Migration transit permit to continue on her way north to Guatemala and hopefully to the Mexico-United States border, in Danlí, Honduras, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Elmer Martinez)
Source: AP Images.

Experts suggest that Mexico’s intent is to demonstrate solidarity with Latin American nations, prioritizing regional alignment over U.S. interests.

One-of-a-kind summit

Back in the United States, the Biden administration is preparing to host a similar summit in early November. A senior White House official noted that the summit’s objective is to address the root causes of irregular migration in the Western Hemisphere.

President Biden has also requested $6 billion to strengthen resources at the overwhelmed southern border.

In a press call, the White House stated that the funds provide the necessary resources for law enforcement personnel to maintain security at the southwest border and curb the trafficking of fentanyl into the United States. This funding encompasses:

  • An allocation for an additional 1,300 Border Patrol agents.
  • Funding for 375 immigration judge teams.
  • Provision for 1,600 asylum officers.
  • Acquisition of over 100 advanced detection machines to enhance fentanyl detection at southwest border ports of entry.
  • Deployment of an additional 1,000 law enforcement personnel and investigative capabilities to deter cartels from smuggling fentanyl into the country.
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RECORDS SHATTERED AT THE SOUTHERN BORDER.

WE’RE GETTING A BETTER PICTURE OF THE SITUATION THANKS TO NEW CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION DATA.

FIGURES FOR SEPTEMBER SHOW A RECORD-BREAKING 270-THOUSAND MIGRANT ENCOUNTERS. IT ALL ADDS UP TO 2-POINT-47 MILLION ENCOUNTERS FOR FISCAL YEAR 20-23. IT’S THE SECOND YEAR IN A ROW ENCOUNTERS HAVE SURPASSED 2 MILLION.

C-B-P SAYS ITS BOLSTERING RESOURCES AND PERSONNEL ALONG THE SOUTHWEST BORDER TO RESPOND TO THE SITUATION.

ADDING THEY ARE COLLABORATING CLOSELY WITH BOTH DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS TO TACKLE THE UNPRECEDENTED CHALLENGE.

TROY A. MILLER |  ACTING COMMISSIONER, CBP

“CBP will continue to remain vigilant, making operational adjustments as necessary and enforcing consequences under U.S. immigration law.”

DURING A TIME WHERE NATIONS ARE DIVIDED ON HOW TO HANDLE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE MIGRATING THROUGH CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICA – MEXICO RECENTLY HOSTED A DIALOGUE WITH 12 OTHER NATIONS IN PALENQUE, MEXICO, A KEY ENTRY POINT FOR MIGRANTS ARRIVING FROM GUATEMALA.

LEADERS AT THE SUMMIT REPRESENTED LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN COUNTRIES CONTRIBUTING TO THE RECORD MIGRANT FLOW. MANY OF THESE NATIONS ARE STRUGGLING WITH THE OVERWHELMING NUMBER OF PEOPLE CROSSING THEIR OWN BORDERS.

THE TOPIC OF DISCUSSIONS WERE THE FACTORS BEHIND HUMAN MOBILITY, INCLUDING POVERTY, INEQUALITY, JOB SCARCITY, AND THE IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE. 

FOREIGN SECRETARY ALICIA BÁRCENA | MEXICO

“In the month of September alone, 35,000 migrants came from Guatemala, 27,000 came from Honduras and so on. So, the countries that we are inviting to the Summit or the Palenque Meeting are precisely the countries that are sending this number of migrants to Mexico and the United States, because we have to sit down and look at the root causes at this moment, if we have per month the arrival of 60,000 Venezuelans, since it is impossible for us to do good management.”

EXPERTS SUGGEST THAT MEXICO SEEKS TO DEMONSTRATE SOLIDARITY WITH LATIN AMERICAN NATIONS, PRIORITIZING REGIONAL ALIGNMENT OVER U-S INTERESTS.

STATESIDE, THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION IS PREPPING TO HOST A SIMILAR SUMMIT IN EARLY NOVEMBER. A SENIOR WHITEHOUSE OFFICIAL NOTES THE SUMMIT SEEKS  TO ADDRESS THE CAUSES OF IRREGULAR MIGRATION IN THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE. PRESIDENT BIDEN HAS ALSO REQUESTED 6 BILLION DOLLARS TO BOLSTER AN OVERWHELMED SOUTHERN BORDER.